Posts tagged 7th Sea

GMs to Love and GMs to Hate

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This week, I’ve decided to have my first forray into the RPG Blog Carnival, an organized event where once a month an RPG Blog poses a topic and other RPG Blogs write a post addressing it. Nevermet Press posed this month’s topic: “things to love and things to hate.” I’ve decided to write about GMs I’ve loved to game with and GMs I’ve hated to game with.

GMs to Hate

Now I’m using the phrase “hate” pejoratively because it’s part of the theme, but I really mean GMs who had a detrimental effect on the game. The book Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering states that “at least 70% of the success or failure of a gaming session depends on interactions between participants,” especially the interaction between the GM and the players. So I might say that those GMs I “hate” are those who ran a game that didn’t get anywhere close to a 70% success.

The GM Who Didn’t Bring Any Enthusiasm to the Game

My first (and so far my only) foray into Pathfinder was a convention game that turned into one of the worst convention games I have ever played. The GM wasn’t enthusiastic in the least. He read the text in a deadpan tone, didn’t give any eye contact to the players, and just went straight through the motions. During combat, he would move an enemy figure and, without saying anything, roll more dice and announce damage. The adventure’s only social encounter went like this:

GM:  In the middle of the room you see a dwarf hammering at the forge.

Player: I use Diplomacy. [rolls] 19.

GM: He tells you that he’s a prisoner here and the only way to free him is to destroy the necromantic altar on the floor above him. Do you guys want to go ahead and go up there?

Nothing at all inspiring about this GM. Afterwards I heard him chattting to one of the players saying that his primary motivation was the GM rewards program for the Pathfinder Rewards Program. Now I’ve got nothing against GM rewards programs, but clearly this GM didn’t have his heart in the game. Bottom line, a terrible game (and that’s not even bringing up the situation where a player pulled out the Pathfinder book to show the monster’s statblock and prove to the GM that he was using its attack wrong).

The GM Who Hated the System He Was Running

You would think that a GM would run a game with a system he liked. Not so here. This GM was part of a larger group which had a good reputation over all. I was excited to play in a game with a cross between some meddling kids, a dog, and an Elder God. The fact that it was run using Savage Worlds with Realms of Cthulhu made it even more appealing.

But apparently, the GM hated Savage Worlds. He said so himself as he was flipping through the books to something up. He didn’t know even the most basic rules either and had Fighting rolls directly dealing damage (ignoring Parry), bad guys who were mysteriously rolling “dodge checks,” and the GM spending bennies to make the players reroll. I really got the impression that the GM hated the system so much that he just did a quick skim over the rules an hour before the game.

Perhaps the GM was required to run Savage Worlds by the group he was part of, but it was no excuse to be running a system he absolutely hated. Too bad because I think it could have been a great game.

GMs to Love

Fortunately, for every horrendous GM, there’s a fantastic one. The ones that make you want to immediately come back and play next year (or even make you want to go run down to the dealer hall and buy the book for the system they are running). There’s a few experiences in particular that I’d like to point out:

The GMs Who Let the Rule of Awesome Trump Everything

Especially in one-shots, it’s important to let the players have fun with what they are doing and let them go with whatever cool ideas they come up with. The GMs from Matinee Adventures totally do that. I played in two games with them last Origins and they were probably the highlight of my con. One was a game was a 7th Sea game based on the Scarlet Pimpernel where we were musketeer-style nobles who went in disguise to save other nobles from the guillotine. The players had lots of great ideas and there were some really epic moments like jumping through a window in order to do a leap attack against some bounty hunters down on the streets below. The GM totally let us do those things and we all had fun!

Another adventure from Matinee Adventures was an Avatar: The Last Airbender prequel using the Ubiquity system where we were teenagers (like in the show) who were saving a child from the Western Air Temple. The GM totally could have set it up where we were limited to only doing certain maneuvers with our elemental bending. But instead, he had us describe whatever we wanted to do, even if it was way over the top, and let us roll for it with some difficulty modifiers. Some really awesome stuff happened there too.

The GM Who Went All Out for His Game

There was a GM who decided he would make the best Stargate SG-1 game he could possibly make. So he used his incredible modeling skills and made this:

Doesn’t this just make you want to play? Now I probably should make it very clear that I am not at all expecting for every GM to make elaborate minis like this. I just want to show the amount of enthusiasm that this GM clearly has for his game. He created a great scenario and went all out to make it as fun as possible for everyone at the table, which for him meant creating great visuals. If you’re a Stargate fan and have the opportunity, definitely play in this guy’s games.

So those are some GMs I’ve loved and GMs I’ve hated. I think that both groups have certainly had an influence in me becoming the JourneymanGM that I am today.

Origins 2011: The Games I Played, Part 1

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Yesterday I blogged about the games I played at Origins. I enjoy GMing, but really enjoy playing too and it’s something I don’t get to do enough of. A lot of the games I played this time around were with systems I was unfamiliar with, but I’m always willing to try new stuff.

7th Sea GM's GuideWednesday of the convention started with a game I knew little about called “Scarlet Pimpernel: The Trap is Set” using the 7th Sea system. The scenario was based on The Scarlet Pimpernel (a novel I was previously unfamiliar with) involving a league of English aristocrats who secretly rescue French aristocrats from their appointments with the guillotine during the early stages of the French Revolution. The 7th Sea system caught my eye because it advertises itself as a “swashbuckling and sorcery” game and still has a pretty strong fan base despite the fact that it has been out of print for 6 years (it’s still available on DriveThruRPG in PDF format though).

The sorcery aspects were almost completely ignored for this scenario, but the GM did a fantastic job of highlighting the swashbuckling nature. We were slicing tapestries and throwing them over our enemies’ heads, shattering second story windows as we leapt to the attackers below, and doing spinning attacks while taunting three foes at once. There was also a great deal of social interaction as we bartered with individuals, found our ways to safe houses, and even attended a royal ball. All in all, the game was really enjoyable and was my first positive experience with the Matinee Adventures group of GMs.

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd EditionNext was “Paragons: Project Paragon” using the new Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition system. I’d played 2nd and 1st edition once each (and in that order) so I figured I’d give this one a go. The system was more streamlined and largely felt to me like D&D 4e for superheroes, but without the powercards (which is a tad ironic given that these guys actually did have “powers”). In all, I liked the simplicity of the system and would definitely be willing to try it again.

The Paragons setting was a bit like the TV series Heroes in that ordinary people wound up discovering that they had extraordinary abilities. I wound up playing Nathan Blackmoor who was the only one who didn’t look normal: in addition to his panther-like powers, he actually looked like a panther. Starting out at a safe house for supers, we wound up tracking down an organization trying to steal information on Project Paragon, a program to artificially create supers. A certain woman was our primary antagonist, but we soon found out that there were a number of clones of her, all hunting us down. The scenario was alright (didn’t have much of a resolution though) and the GM wasn’t very enthusiastic or engaging, but there wasn’t really anything that I feel hurt the game. Not the best game, but it could have been better.

Iron DynastyThursday was my Savage Worlds day starting with Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin, a Savage Worlds setting with the same name. Iron Dynasty is largely a mix of historical Japan with magic and ghost stories come to life. For instance, we fought a Ghost Lantern, which lured travelers to their deaths. This scenario was run by the creator of the setting and we ran an introductory adventure he wrote.

At the end though, I thought it was okay. I didn’t see anything particularly compelling about the setting and the GMing style was decent, but not inspiring. I was given a $5 off coupon to buy Iron Dynasty, but decided against it. As the Platinum Warlock put it, “Okay doesn’t generate sales.” To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever pick it up, what with so many other great Savage Worlds settings out there that I find much more interesting…

…Like Deadlands for instance. Later that day was “Clint’s Rock” using Deadlands Reloaded, which as I’ve previously mentioned is a Savage Worlds setting I greatly enjoy. I got to play a Mad Scientist who, along with the other characters, was hired by Hellstrome Industries to kick Clint off his property, forcefully if necessary, in order to make room for the new railroad. Little did we know that the ol’ coot had learned a bit of magic in his time away from society and we had giant spiked bears and walkin’ dead to contend with. Only after I torched his house with my flamethrower did we discover that the dynamite he was throwing at us was magically appearing in his hands! In the end, though, Clint met his fate and we were able to claim our bounty for completing our job.

Clint's Rock

The final state of things as we took out Clint. The Pinnacle demo team did a great job with minis.

I think that’s enough explanation of my games for one day, so I’ll leave you on that and say: “To be continued…”

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